Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Panna Cotta and Florentines

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.


Reading what the February challenge was going to be was pretty exciting for me. My next door neighbors growing up, who were more family than neighbors, were Italian, and cooked and baked some of the most amazing foods. While I can't remember them ever making home-made panna cotta, I do remember eating some version or another with them, and loving it. I have also been to Italy a couple of times, and love any sort of happy reminders of that beautiful and delicious country! The biggest problem I saw with this challenge, as far as I could see, was the dairy factor. Panna cotta means cooked cream. And I don't use cream. That whole lactose intolerant thing... So right off the bat, I knew that my take on the challenge wouldn't be quite authentic. (Can you still call it "cooked cream" if there is no "cream" in it?) Luckily I am not the only Daring Baker facing this issue, and there was some amazing support for us to find alternatives. I found this recipe for a tofu panna cotta which looked good, even though I did alter it up a bit to suit my own tastes. (I only used the panna cotta part of the recipe - not the blood orange or candied pistachios.) For the Florentines, I was able to use the recipe as it was written, with only a couple of tweaks.

Here is the mostly photographic tour of this delicious challenge

Infusing vanilla non-dairy creamer with even more vanilla-y goodness:
Combining the vegan gelatin substitute and sugar: Tofu and brown sugar (instead of honey) ready for a spin in the blender:Letting it all cook and thicken up:
Panna cottas ready to chill out: The Florentines called for quick oats. Which I don't have. I have old fashioned oats. What to do... Using a plastic baggie and my trusted rolling pin, I made my own quick oats!
Melting the margarine:
Adding the rest of the ingredients (subbing light corn syrup for dark, since I don't have dark, but using some brown sugar to fill the molasses-y flavor), adding cinnamon to the mix: Ready to go into the oven:Spread a little, but cooling down:
Coating with chocolate... yum:

Finally, I topped my panna cotta with a fresh blueberry sauce, let it all set, then waited for dessert time. And it was definitely worth the wait! The brown sugar vanilla (soy/tofu) panna cotta set up so beautifully, and had the perfect texture. The blueberries on top were a great complement to the creamy dessert, too.

And the Florentines? There were those who found the cookies to be a bit too sweet for their tastes. I was not one of them. These were delicious. Crispy edges, chewy centers, some with chocolate on them... I found myself snacking on one pretty much every time I went into the kitchen until they were all gone! (Which didn't take long...!)


Thank you so much, Mallory, for this amazing challenge! I loved every bit of it - but mostly the eating! You have absolutely given me recipes which will remain in my arsenal for a long time!

If you are in the mood for a treat, take a look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers came up with!

16 comments:

  1. I'm always so impressed with vegan bakers and cooks and I adore your vegan versions. Lovely work and photos. Clever way to make quick oats with a rolling pin wonderful tip! I adore your story about your family across the fence so sweet.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  2. Once again, you impressed me with all your twists for a lactose free Panna Cotta. They look beautiful! I agree with you about the Florentines, quite addictive even though mine were pretty much like cookies rather than the thin Florentines.

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  3. I've often wondered too whether panna cotta is still panna cotta without cream. But yoghurt cotta just doesn't have the same ring to it does it? :) Great job on the challenge, especially overcoming the whole lactose issue. The use of tofu sounds very intriguing. There is a Malaysian dessert I love that has the texture of panna cotta, made with soymilk, and served with a sugar syrup. Your story reminded me of it.

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  4. I'm glad you were able to enjoy the panna cotta without the panna! I think anyone doing these challenges with added dietary requirements is even more deserving of the Daring Bakers title. Your panna cotta/florentines look wonderful & I love the blueberries on top. :)

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  5. oooh! That looks perfect, absolutely loved the flavours you have added.

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  6. I would have never thought of a tofu panna cotta, but you make it look and sound delicious. You always do such a great job adapting the challenge recipes!

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  7. You made me want to try tofu, that is a first!! I didnt mind the sweet florentines either, mine still last a week since I baked them, I missed them already. :)

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  8. Wow, I just have to try out your tofu version! I'm not a big fan of cream, this is much more up my street - great job! xxx

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  9. The tofu process sounds interesting and looks delicious with the blueberries!

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  10. Tofu version looks delicious. i would love to try this version. florentine cookies looks awesome.

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  11. beautiful job this month with the challenge. i love it! Buttercreambarbie

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  12. Soy-tofu panna cotta sounds delicious and healthy and will try this very soon. The blueberry topping looks so delicious! Great job on this challenge!

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  13. I love tofu and will definitely try it.:)

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  14. Panna cotta with tofu! Looks good and is something I must try.

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  15. This sounds very interesting! I've never had tofu before, and in my imagination it only is associated with savoury meals, so this is very surprising for me and I'd love to try it out! Btw you can find the recipe for the Florentines on my blog now :) And thank you for your very nice comment on my blog :)

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